Paul Hanlon has revealed that the Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts has been on his mind for months and he’s hoping current league form can see Hibs triumph on Saturday.
The conclusion of last season’s competition was postponed because of the pandemic, leaving the Edinburgh sides with a long wait to resume their on-field rivalry.
“We’re massively excited about the game,” Hanlon said. “It’s one that we’ve been looking forward to for a long time.
“We’ve had league fixtures to take care of in the meantime but it’s always been at the back of our mind that this cup fixture was coming up and we’re glad that it’s finally here now.
“It’s an Edinburgh derby and that in itself makes it a massive game but on top of that being the semi-final of the national cup makes it a huge game.”
The Easter Road side have enjoyed a strong start to the Premiership season, sitting in third place after taking 24 points from their opening 12 games. Hanlon is hoping that run can stand the team in good stead when they come up against Hearts.
“It’s just a case of using the confidence that we have built up throughout this early part of the season to take it into this game,” he said.
“We need to understand what we have done well in games, what we can still improve on and try to put it all together this weekend.
“It is a massive game and we need to play well to win it and showcase what we have done so far this season.”
With Hearts in the Championship this season, Saturday’s clash could be the only derby for a while and the defender said it was a pity Hampden would be empty for the occasion.
He said: “There is no doubt that it is going to be a surreal experience being at Hampden, being involved in such a big game, obviously being a semi-final of our national cup, and an Edinburgh derby on top of that.
“It is going to be surreal not having fans there but it is something we have got used to over a number of weeks now.
“No matter where you go in the country, bigger stadiums, smaller stadiums, we are used to it.
“We have adjusted well to it so far this season and we need to do it again.
“[Having no fans there] is going to be an extra motivation for us. We want to get to the cup final, and we’re well aware we need to do it for the fans who are sitting at home and would be desperate to be there supporting us.”